In her young adult book of vignettes, Sandra Cisneros writes partly autobiographical glimpses into growing up on the poor side of a big city. A short chapter near the end is called “Alicia and I sitting on Edna’s steps.” In it, the main character laughs when Alicia discusses whether the Mayor will stoop to “fix” the city.
Promises made and broken. Vows questioned. Lives taken. For Mark Wahlberg’s character, fixing the city involves finding himself, his real purpose, his moral compass. In his search for self he gets mixed up in the Mayor’s fight.
The language is as profane as it gets and as unnecessary as the suggestive scenes, but somehow the writer also offers complex characters and scenes to be solved. Russell Crowe is allowed to murmur an actual soliloquy. This feels like a writer’s film. Brilliant hints, bread crumbs really, are dropped along the way. Films like this train you to pay attention. Forget Pavlovian laugh tracks for a moment and enjoy hunting on your own for clues in radio and TV announcements, painted murals, and scenes of baptism.
“Who’s going to fix it? Not the Mayor.”